He has been nominated for a Grammy, packed a Coachella tent and worked with Dr. Dre, but deep down, Anderson .Paak just wants a slice of Toppers pizza.
With the key to the city in hand Saturday, .Paak told a crowd at the Community Park West, in Oxnard, California that “I hope this key opens up Toppers.”
The day following the release of his album “Oxnard,” the singer, songwriter, rapper, drummer and producer treated the community to a party that started with carnival games in the day and an appearance by Dr. Dre at night.
It was deafening inside the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center when Dr. Dre, who produced “Oxnard,” came out on stage with .Paak for a Q and A.
“Anderson, I feel like in my opinion, he’s putting Oxnard on the map to the world,” Dr. Dre said. “It reminds me of when I started, nobody knew where Compton was.”
.Paak performed both hits from “Malibu” and new music, bringing out special guest Thundercat. He kicked off a set lasting more than an hour with “Saviers Road.”
In an interview with The Star, .Paak said “Saviers Road,” named after the street where he used to ride the bus, is a song about salvation.
“I love it,” .Paak said. “It’s one of those long raps that kinda covers everything. That one song gives you a brief overview of everything.”
He points out a verse in the song: “Ten years, been a minute, I was somewhere between giving up and doing a sentence. God, if you existin, help my momma get acquitted.”
.Paak’s mother owned a strawberry distribution company in Oxnard but eventually filed for bankruptcy and owed money to many people. She was arrested for securities fraud and served more than seven years in prison.
“She did her time and got her degree,” .Paak said.
His mother was a victim of domestic violence, something .Paak witnessed when he was young. His father was in the military, stationed in Point Mugu but went in a “downward spiral,” .Paak said, due to drugs.
“Last time I seen him, he was in a casket,” .Paak said.
If .Paak’s last album “Malibu” was about that struggle, “Oxnard” is about being in better times but not forgetting that struggle.
“This album is like same man, new car,” .Paak said.
It’s appropriate then that he named his album after the city in which he was born. But about six months ago, there were other album titles under consideration — names like Hollywood Beach and Silverstrand.
“I said, ‘You know what? Let’s call it Oxnard,’ ” .Paak said.
To celebrate the album, .Paak didn’t want a typical release party. When his nonprofit .Paak House connected with the city’s performing arts center, the idea was formed to host a free family-friendly carnival followed by an evening concert.
“I wanted to do something in my hometown,” he said.
.Paak House paid the tab for everything from the cotton candy and hot dogs to the bounce house and balloon animals.
“You hear about L.A. but you don’t really hear about Oxnard,” said Beatriz Ochoa, an Oxnard resident who brought her daughter for some face painting. “For someone naming their album ‘Oxnard’ and giving back, it’s great.”
Her husband Vincent Ochoa said he likes that .Paak’s music is positive.
“Not only is he in the limelight but he’s a positive person,” Vincent Ochoa said. “We want people thinking good things of Oxnard.”
Although .Paak has some painful childhood memories, he also remembers many good things in Oxnard.
He was born in St. John’s Regional Medical Center and lived in Oxnard until he was 8. After he moved to Ventura, he returned to Oxnard often, playing music at St. Paul’s Baptist Church and going to football games between Oxnard and Hueneme high schools. .Paak graduated from Foothill Technology High School and returned recently to find the art tile he made still up on a wall.
Esplanade Mall and Carriage Square movie theater were among the favorite hangouts and of course there was Toppers. The skinny rapper was once a chubby kid who loved to dunk his pizza in ranch dressing.
“I’d go to the salad bar three times even though you’re supposed to go once,” .Paak said.
When Dr. Dre said it was his first time in Oxnard and asked what there was to do, .Paak suggested going to the downtown taqueria Tacos de Mexico and Toppers.
“After that, I’m not sure what else to do in this city, man,” .Paak said.
.Paak, who lives in Woodland Hills, still visits Oxnard to see family and his church every once in a while. He came a day before the carnival to stop by the Target in Ventura to see if it was carrying his album, (it was sold out) and made an appearance at the record store Salzers.
The Ventura store had a booth at the carnival and ended up selling more than 200 “Oxnard” CDs.
.Paak spent a good portion of the day greeting fans and signing CDs.
With the word Oxnard emblazoned on T-shirts, stickers and stage banners, the daylong party was a celebration of a city often viewed as the underdog. But it was also a celebration of an Oxnard son coming home.
“It’s such a dream making my city proud,” .Paak said.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2018/11/19/dr-dre-celebrates-anderson-paak-album-oxnard/2056890002/